Layke sucked in his breath. Percy just stood there, staring at Layke. He began to shut the door, but Layke put his hand in its way. The door lodged painfully on Layke’s fingers.
“Take your hand out of there, please, so I may close the door properly,” Percy said. Layke swallowed. This Percy was so different from the one who had been disbelieving about his return. It scared him.
“I’m not here to talk about … that. I’m here to borrow food for dinner.”
“I don’t live here. I’m just staying here while my mother is away on business. I’ll go and get someone.” Percy started walking down the hallway.
“No, don’t go.”
Layke had said it quietly, but it seemed that Percy had good ears, for he stopped.
“I don’t really want to talk to you, Layke, after what just happened.”
“You and I used to be really good friends. What has become of our friendship?”
Percy shook his head. “But you’re one of Them. I can’t trust you anymore.”
“You can. Just because I … I believe in certain things, it doesn’t mean I’m going to harm you. I just want to ask you a question. About what you said earlier.” Layke bit his lip, hoping Percy would turn around. He did.
“What about it?”
“Who is Way and what do you mean when you say ‘behind the Lightning Tree’?”
“Waiye is someone you’ll meet behind the Lightning Tree.” Percy shook his head. “I can’t say any more.”
Layke nodded, casting his eyes down. “I’m sorry, Percy, for dragging you into this. I’m very grateful that you even talk to me at all after what happened.”
“I’ve been too generous with you,” Percy said. “I shouldn’t …”
Percy sighed, and went back up to Layke. He took Layke’s hand and pressed something into it. “Show Waiye and she’ll trust you,” he whispered into Layke’s ear. Layke was about to open his hand so see what was in it, but Percy but a firm hand on it.
“No. Not until you get home.” Then he was gone.
After waiting for awhile, an old woman came tottering towards him.
“Layke, is it?”
“Well then, what would you want, dear?”